Thursday, March 28, 2013

Diagnosis: Pay Inequality in Healthcare

Dr. Linda Brodsky realized she was being paid less than her male co-workers in the medical world. She documented several other forms of gender discrimination in her industry as well. She has since become a poster child for workplace equality for women. Linda bravely spent ten-years in a federal legal battle with her employer setting important precedents in workplace gender equality for the rest of us.

Fifty percent of all medical students today are women, and 46 percent of graduating physician trainees are women. Notably, male doctors make more than female doctors. In fact, in 2009 the average male doctor took home $35,300 more than their women counterparts.

Inequality Is Everywhere

Unfortunately, Linda's story is one of many and it isn’t just the healthcare industry that is affected. Women everywhere face workplace inequality every day, it’s nothing new.

“…patterns of gender relations constitutes a gender regime.” ~ PLOS

Women experience myriad forms of discrimination from blatant sexism to reduced pay to being overlooked for promotions. Since 1980, there have been more women enrolled in institutions of higher education than men.Data from theCenter for Work-Life Policy demonstrate that while 47% of college-educated entry-level corporate professionals are female, women comprise a mere 21% of senior executives,17% of Congressand15% of board directors.

A woman earns only 80 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Research conducted shows that,

“…companies with significant numbers of women in management have a much higher return on investment than companies that lag on this front.”

Whether you are an engineer trying to get work through mechanical engineering staffing firms; an on-call Registered Nurse (RN) or ER doctor waiting for placement; or a woman applying at McDonald’s, you have a right to fair pay regardless of gender or any other discriminatory factor, but you also have an obligation to seek it.


The sociological factors involved in this issue are not surprising considering society has historically been shaped by men for centuries.

Ironically – as much as women want equal rights, a recent poll showed women still prefer male bosses and see men as better able to,

 “’Steer the ship,’ harder and (are) more driven, which makes of them better leaders.”

What Can You Do?

Gender equality is a nice catchphrase, but it has to be put into practice for it to have meaning and it starts with you.

  • Know Your Value
  • Know the Market
  • Understand Fair Compensation 
  • Discuss Expectations Regularly
  • Find Resources

Women who stay uninvolved with their pay process should not complain if they are slighted or overlooked. It is your responsibility to understand everything involved and to fight for and negotiate the best deal you can.

“Gender inequality in the workplace is an acute and persistent problem.” ~ World Economic Forum, 2011

Equal rights, all rights – for all people in and out of the workplace should be things we no longer have to fight for, but the fight is far from over. Women like Linda continue to stand-up for women’s rights around the world, but each of us has a duty to do our part as well.

This is a guest post written by Samantha Peters, who enjoys blogging on career and HR sites covering topics of particular interest to women in the workplace.

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